There’s no such thing as a perfect time to have a baby. You and your partner just need to be on the same page and know you are ready to take the leap into parenthood.
So, you’ve decided it’s time to start trying to conceive. That’s great news! There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself before you start trying to have a baby. These things will start you on the path to have a healthy, enjoyable pregnancy.
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1. See your doctor
Schedule a preconception visit with your doctor. Your doctor will likely give you a physical exam as well as talk through your medical history, family history, diet, lifestyle, and other various topics that can have an effect on your pregnancy. This gives you the chance to address any health issues or risks before getting pregnant and make sure you are on track to have a healthy and safe pregnancy.
2. Stop taking birth control
This might be obvious, but if you are actively preventing pregnancy it’s time to stop. Depending on the type of contraceptive you are using it can take some time for your normal cycle to return. It can take one to three months for fertility to return after stopping birth control pills, rings, and patches. For birth control implants, and copper IUDs, fertility should return within a month. After removal of hormonal IUDs, it can take several months for cycles to return to normal. Birth control shots have the longest wait time. These can take six to twelve months to have fertility return after the most recent injection.
The good news is that research suggests using contraceptives does not have a negative effect on your fertility. Studies have shown women who used contraceptives had similar pregnancy rates after birth control as those who have not used any birth control.
3. Start tracking your cycles
Knowing when you had your last period and when you ovulate is a game-changer when trying to conceive. You have the highest chance of getting pregnant when you have sex one to two days before ovulation. There are many options for tracking your fertility. In general, you ovulate 14 days before your next period, but every woman is different and not everyone has a textbook 28-day cycle. What worked best for me was tracking basal body temperature and using ovulation test strips. After a few cycles you will see a pattern and having that knowledge made trying to conceive a little less stressful.
4. Start taking a prenatal vitamin
Start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you start trying to conceive. This will help ensure your baby has everything it needs to grow strong and healthy. Since you don’t know how long it will take you to get pregnant and women typically don’t know until week 4 or 5 that they are pregnant, make sure your body is ready to support that growing baby. You provide all the nutrients the baby needs so it’s important your body has enough for both of you.
5. See your dentist
Those major hormonal changes caused by pregnancy increase the risk of developing gum disease. Seeing your dentist before you become pregnant will address any looming issues and allow you to make sure your teeth are in good shape. You can still see your dentist for routines visits when pregnant (it’s encouraged!), but getting any problems treated prior to getting pregnant will give you one less thing to worry about.
6. Cut back and stop any bad habits
The sooner you can quit those bad habits, the better for you and your future baby. The major ones to consider are smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. Not only do these have detrimental effects on your developing baby, but they can also have a negative effect on your ability to get pregnant. So, if you’re in need of motivation to start living a healthy lifestyle, this is it.
7. Eat healthy
Eating healthy is always important, but it’s especially important as you prepare for pregnancy. You can increase your fertility by following a healthy diet. Foods with lots of folic acid, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are linked to higher rates of fertility. Eating a lot of fast food, red meat, processed meats, sweets, and sugar may cause fertility issues. Plus, getting into the habit of clean eating now will make it that much easier to stick with it when morning sickness and late night cravings kick in during pregnancy!
8. Find an exercise routine you enjoy
Exercise reduces stress and helps you maintain a healthy weight – two factors shown to have an effect on ability to conceive. Not only is moderate exercise linked to increased fertility, but it’s a great way to help prepare your body for pregnancy. During pregnancy your blood volume increases by 30-50%, meaning your heart is pumping more blood every minute and your heart rate increases. Getting in better shape now will make that transition easier. Your body will go through intense physical changes during pregnancy. Having an exercise routine in place before getting pregnant will make it easier to stay active during pregnancy.
9. Start an emergency fund
I like to call these the “oh crap” accounts. You know there will be more medical bills during pregnancy and there will be child care costs after the baby is born, but it’s important to plan for the unknown too. The goal is to have 3-6 months of living expenses saved because “oh crap” you got put on bed rest during pregnancy and aren’t able to work or “oh crap” kids are accident prone and you have a handful of medical bills that weren’t excepted. It will give you peace of mind having this account to dip into if needed.
Related Post: How To Have a Baby On A Budget
10. Check your calendar
This may be more important to some people than others. Depending on how quickly you want to conceive there are a few things to consider. Do you have a busy season at work? After having a baby, you’ll probably take some sort of maternity leave. You might think about planning around this if possible. The day your baby is born will be their birthday for the rest of their lives. If there are certain times of the year you want to avoid or, for some reason, just dislike, consider planning around those months.
The fact you are reading this means you’ve already taken the first step in setting yourself up for a healthy, happy TTC journey. Good luck future momma and enjoy it!